FRUGAL RECIPES: butternut squash w/ quick-pickled onions



Even though it's still gloomy and cold, I've had enough stodgy food for a while, particularly after glutting my way through the whole of December. This recipe is fresh and zingy, but a hint of chilli and soft, caramelised butternut squash makes sure it still counts as comfort food.

I suppose it's not so much a recipe as a bringing together of ingredients, but first things first you have to make your pickled onions. These aren't like the ones you normally get on the countertop in the fish and chip shop - they're tangy and sour with a hint of sweetness. And they only take about half an hour to make! I followed this recipe from The Kitchn - the  most  helpful tip is to finely slice your onion into rings, which makes them easier to fish out of the jar later on. I like to let mine marinade overnight, but they can be ready in as little as half an hour! They will keep for a few weeks in a sterilised glass jar (just pop in boiling water for a few minutes and leave to dry on a clean kitchen towel) and they are great with everything from sandwiches and salads to heartier meals like pulled pork.



All you have to do now is roast the butternut squash in the oven for about an hour at 180C. I like to drizzle mine with olive oil, plenty of salt and pepper and a sprinkling of chilli flakes. Hearty herbs like rosemary and sage would also be lovely, as well as a good handful of garlic cloves.


When the edges are starting to brown and the squash is soft, serve on a plate with crumbled feta cheese, coriander and the pickled onions. It's squash season at the moment, so I made 8-10 lunch-sized servings for £4 (40p each).

SNAPSHOTS

I've had a couple of disposable cameras knocking around in my bag for absolutely ages and I finally used them up on New Year's Eve. One of them seems to be about 3 years old! I had them developed this week and it was so fun to see how the pictures turned out.




{top to bottom: Richmond Park, Christmas Day; Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur; our old flatmate; morning glow; New Year's Eve}

I love these kids of pictures - they always capture people at their happiest. No pouting, occasional closed eyes. They are so expensive though! I think the cameras themselves cost about £4 and the developing was £6.99 per roll...anyone know if you can get them developed for cheaper than that? Maybe online?

91 MAGAZINE IN PRINT!



Caroline kindly sent me a copy of the print issue of 91 Magazine just before Christmas and I just got round to reading it over the weekend. I wish I'd contributed as I'd love to see my work in print, but the issue is a beauty anyway with sweet home tours, decorating ideas and easy DIYs (I'm in love with the planters on the cover by The Lovely Drawer).



There are still some issues left so make sure you order one for your own little piece of 91 Magazine. If you'd like to see what I've contributed in the past, check out my snippets from issue 8 and issue 11.


A PHOTO FOR FRIDAY | 23


You guys all know my big passion in life is food, but my job in retail is largely fashion-centric. Last year I put the cogs in motion to create more lifestyle content at work and I found the incredible Raw Vegan Blonde on Instagram. Over the course of the year she created exclusive recipes and fruit and vegetable collages for us and this week I wrote a story, bringing together all the recipes in one post. It was really exciting to look back over the posts and realise how much I achieved last year, so this week I’m reflecting on making goals to achieve the things you want. This time last year I wasn’t doing any food writing at all (and I had only just started my blog!), so I’m feeling a bit sentimental today. Thanks for stopping by!

If you’re interested in raw and/or vegan food or if you just want to see some beautiful images like the one above, you can read the full story on Style Insider

KEEPING IN TOUCH: the bicycle



I lived in three different countries when I was growing up so as a result I have a lot of friends that I don't get to see very often, some of them I haven't seen for nearly 10 years! I try to keep in touch over Facebook, but sometimes the day-to-day stuff I end up writing isn't all that interesting when our lives are so different now, we don't know each other's friends and correspondence is sporadic. It seems shallow, but these short snippets of conversation aren't all that engaging.

Just before Christmas, a strange parcel dropped onto my doormat. I'm an internet shopping fiend, but the envelope was postmarked Australia and I was sure I hadn't ordered anything from there lately! I opened it to reveal a strange, nondescript journal, but when I looked inside the penny dropped.


A few years ago, a couple of my old school friends from Japan had the idea to start a journal that we would write in and send across the world to each other. I don't know if you ever did this, but when I was in high school we used to stock up on blank notebooks and write notes to each other during class, then pass them onto each other to read and reply. I have stacks of these books hidden away, so this new version was such a fun reminder.

The rules are simple: each person fills in at least 1 one page, but no more than 2 and then sends it onto a new continent. Entries can include anything from writing and sketches to photographs, newspaper clippings and so on.


Don't you think it's such a fun idea? Does it inspire you to start something similar? I think it would be fun to write postcards, with each person adding another postcard to the bundle when they get it. It really warmed my heart to read through all my friends' entries (some of the girls I don't even know, so it was fun to get to know a little more about my friends' friends). I'm just waiting for something noteworthy to happen now before I pass it on!

BORROW MY DOGGY

When I started writing this blog last January, I came up with the tagline in pursuit of the good life. I wanted my blog to be about learning new skills, trying new things and taking time to appreciate the little things that make everyday life that little bit more exciting. So far, I've improved my daily commute, discussed why I think staying late at the office isn't healthy or productive, taken the time to appreciate slow Sunday mornings and shared some of my favourite recipes for eating well on a budget. So far, so good, but I think this is my favourite life-improver so far: BorrowMyDoggy.


The premise is basically internet dating for dog owners and dog lovers. You sign up and browse the profiles of dogs in your area and then fix up a meeting to see if you're a good fit. Some dog owners are looking for people to walk their dogs during the day while they're out at work, some want you to take them for a weekend romp and some even need dog sitters while they go on holiday! We decided to try it out because we are just CUCKOO for dogs. We're hoping to get a dog in a couple of years' time, so it's the perfect opportunity to meet lots of different breeds to see what would fit best into our lives. What do you get out of it? Well, meeting dogs. DUH!



We walk Jack, the Wire Haired Fox Terrier in these photos, about once a week before work as he lives super close to us and I think his owner is just happy to have an undisturbed 30 minutes in the morning to drink coffee and read the paper, while Maddie, a gorgeous, lively Staffordshire Bull Terrier who we take out for longer walks at the weekend, is such an outgoing and friendly dog who can fetch a ball all day long, her owner just wanted to share her fun loving spirit with people who love, but can't have their own dogs.

After walking the dogs, we both just feel so happy and relaxed. It's definitely an endorphin high! And when you're walking a dog people always smile at you and you automatically get to be part of the 'dog owners club' in the park. If you love dogs, I can't recommend BorrowMyDoggy enough.

A PHOTO FOR FRIDAY | 22


What are you supposed to do with flamingo cocktail stirrers that are just too cute for words? Stick them in a bright flower arrangement, of course!

I did this little jar of flowers for my New Year's Eve party, which was a lot of fun! I was so nervous about hosting people - something about that night that just adds so much pressure! We ended up having a couple of my school friends and their boyfriends over for dinner, along with my cousin who lives with us and his girlfriend who's visiting. I had to work all day but Darren was off so he whipped up a bumper batch of his epic pulled pork and we made a bunch of sides including crunchy slaw, black bean and tomato salsa, guacamole and some pink pickled onions I made which really knock your socks off.

My friend made a batch of mojitos and then I made everyone do tequila shots! Everyone headed off at about 1am and we (surprisingly) managed to do a bit of tidying up before falling into bed. The hangover was totally worth it for the round of bacon sandwiches we had the next morning, although I'm not in any rush to host NYE again anytime soon!
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